Nova Scotia

Subject of Smith-McCrossin marijuana story says comments 'completely inaccurate'

An Amherst business woman says she was misrepresented by Tory leadership candidate Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin when the politician recently referred to her during a debate at Province House.

Amherst woman says Tory leader hopeful's story of their conversation a 'misrepresentation'

Tory MLA and leadership candidate Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin has issued an apology to a women whom she recently spoke about in Province House while debating the government's cannabis bill. (CBC)

An Amherst, N.S., business woman says she was misrepresented by Tory leadership candidate Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin when the politician recently referred to her during a debate at Province House.

While debating the Liberal government's bill related to cannabis, Smith-McCrossin, the MLA for Cumberland North, referred to her best friend in Amherst who is from Jamaica, in an attempt to make a point.

"She said to me, 'Elizabeth, smoking marijuana in Jamaica is completely accepted, and there's a completely different work ethic and very low productivity in Jamaica.' I think we already have a productivity problem here in Nova Scotia. We do not need something else making it worse."

'Negative impact'

The comments were controversial and led to two apologies by Smith-McCrossin. And now the woman about whom Smith-McCrossin was speaking says she didn't make those comments.

Donna Gogan, who operates Flutterbye Jamaican Caribbean Cuisine, declined an interview, but issued a statement saying she is a proud Jamaican and Smith-McCrossin's comments "are completely inaccurate."

"I sincerely apologize to my fellow Jamaican citizens for the negative impact of Elizabeth's misrepresentation of my comments on our land and the beautiful, hardworking Jamaica people."

Gogan's statement goes on to say her comments to Smith-McCrossin were that, based on what she's seen, people who smoke cannabis seem to be less productive, but she also knows people who use cannabis and the use is not apparent.

"I pointed out to her that in Jamaica, it's mostly the Rastafarian that use weed as a religious ritual. I have 17 nieces and nephews in Jamaica and none of them smoke."

'Never asked to be in the spotlight'

Smith-McCrossin issued an apology when the comments brought on criticism, then a second apology saying she was going to try to become more informed.

The president of the Jamaican Cultural Association of Nova Scotia has criticized Smith-McCrossin for her remarks, as has interim PC Leader Karla MacFarlane, who has said the party is considering sensitivity training for its MLAs.

In a statement provided by her leadership team, Smith-McCrossin said she has apologized to Gogan and she is doing it again in public.

"She is a good person who never asked to be in the spotlight until I mistakenly put her there last week. Donna and her family are very dear to me."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia whose coverage areas include Province House, rural communities, and health care. Contact him with story ideas at michael.gorman@cbc.ca

With files from Sherri Borden Colley

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